The city of Moss Point has lost thirteen officers in the last twelve months. Police Chief Michael Ricks is concerned even more may leave since the board of aldermen took away the departments new incentives plan it passed last week. The incentives package would have paid officers between twelve hundred and four thousand dollars a year.
"There's no doubt in my mind other officers are going to leave given the opportunity and the number of vacancies other departments have, says Ricks. "We're trying to mend the relationship with our community. We're trying to build a solid police department and it's disappointing but we're going to move on from here."
The officers aren't the only ones disappointed by city leaders' decision.
"If it's as bad as it is... compared to the neighboring cities I would imagine they needed that raise and they'll do just what a lot of them are doing... come in, get trained and move on," says Kevin Shaw of Moss Point.
"I think we should try to find a way to give them an adequate amount to supply their needs," said Moss Point Resident Harold Richmond.
City leaders say they did what they thought was best for all city employees.
"We thought it'd be better to wait until the budget and consider the budget and the money put in for the pay incentives and we wanted to look at everybody and not just the police department," said Mayor Frank Lynn.
The city's next budget session is in June but until then Chief Ricks says the board's decision puts his department in a difficult situation.
" It's going to lead us to the point that we may have to reduce our standards, our hiring standards, or just the standards we have in the police department just so we can keep someone on the streets," said Ricks.